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Nintendo, Infinity Ward, Blizzard Top First-Ever 'Top 50 Developers' Countdown
Nintendo, Infinity Ward, Blizzard Top First-Ever 'Top 50 Developers' Countdown
March 7, 2008 | By Staff

March 7, 2008 | By Staff
More: Console/PC

Think Services’ Game Developer magazine and Game Developer Research division - sister divisions to - have announced a major new study ranking the top 50 game development studios worldwide.

By combining empirical market data with a detailed survey taken by game development professionals via Webby Award-winning site, the Top 50 Developers report features a first-ever holistic view of the top game developers, using both sales and reputation data.

For the first-ever countdown, of which the Top 20 Developers are listed and detailed in the March 2008 issue of Game Developer magazine, Nintendo’s Kyoto studio came out on top - thanks in no small part to incredible sales of a healthy lineup of DS and Wii software, notably Wii Play, Wii Sports, and two Brain Age games.

These titles rarely left Japanese and Western sales charts, demonstrating Nintendo’s mastery of the casual games market. Survey comments heaped praise upon the Japanese giant for its focus on quality, and this was reflected in high review scores all around.

The second place went to Activision-owned developer Infinity Ward, thanks to both the resounding critical and commercial success of its 2007 release Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and high scores and healthy praise for the developer's working conditions, professionalism, and attention to quality.

Rounding out the Top 3 was the Vivendi-owned Blizzard Entertainment, with major critical and commercial success of its World Of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade expansion, along with some notable praise in the reputation section of the report.

The top 20 rankings of game development studios for the first-ever countdown, alongside some of the notable games they released in 2007, are as follows:

1. Nintendo Kyoto (Brain Age, Wii Play)
2. Infinity Ward (Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare)
3. Blizzard Entertainment (World Of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade)
4. Electronic Arts Canada (FIFA Soccer 08, NBA Street: Homecourt)
5. Valve (Portal, Team Fortress 2)
6. Konami Japan Studio (Winning Eleven: Pro Evolution Soccer, Dance Dance Revolution Universe)
7. Insomniac Games (Ratchet & Clank Future)
8. Capcom Osaka Studio (Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, Monster Hunter Freedom)
9. Electronic Arts Tiburon (Madden NFL 08, NASCAR 08)
10. BioWare Edmonton (Mass Effect, Jade Empire: Special Edition)
11. Bungie Studios (Halo 3)
12. Ubisoft Montreal (Assassin's Creed, Naruto: Rise Of A Ninja)
13. 2K Boston [& Australia] (BioShock)
14. Harmonix (Rock Band)
15. Bandai Namco Tokyo (Ace Combat 6: Fires Of Liberation, Beautiful Katamari)
16. Square Enix Tokyo (Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core, Front Mission DS)
17. Game Freak (Pokemon Diamond/Pearl)
18. Epic Games (Unreal Tournament 3, Gears Of War PC)
19. Hudson Soft (Mario Party 8, Mario Party DS)
20. Neversoft (Guitar Hero III, Tony Hawk's Proving Ground)

The methodology for the first-ever Game Developer Top 50 Developers countdown was as follows. Each game developer was first assessed by combining the top ranking games using all weekly Top 10 charts of U.S., U.K., and Japanese sales in 2007, as well as number of games released and average Metacritic review scores - specifically making eligible those developers whose games were released in calendar 2007.

In terms of the reputational part of the ranking, an anonymous survey was fielded on asking community members to score game developers on overall reputation, as well as direct interaction working for or with that developer, where possible. The resulting report is the only multi-input empirical ranking available for game development studios.

“Nintendo's incredibly accessible and well-designed games continue to support its hardware success, which is why they reached the Top Developer spot in this first-ever Top 50 Developer Report,” said Simon Carless, Publisher of Game Developer Magazine and Director of Game Developer Research. “In addition, the mix of Western and Japanese developers in the Top 20 shows a flourishing world ecosystem for game development, as the medium continues to grow strongly into the 21st Century.”

A more detailed analysis of the Top 50 Developers, including brief analysis and reputational quotes, is available in the March 2008 issue of Game Developer magazine, out now and available at the magazine's website.

However, the full Top 50 Developers data set, including full feedback, comparative charts, and canonical statistics for all top 50 developers and additional feedback for other companies, is available via Game Developer Research's website.

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Tim Leach
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I understand the top two, but I am honestly surprised Valve is below 5th, and even more surprised they're below Electronic Arts. I would have personally ranked Valve 3rd. Does anybody else feel this way, or is it just me?

James Harris
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You put EA over Valve? SHAME ON YOU! SHAME!

Mike Lopez
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I was also surprised by that ranking of EA Canada, but it just goes to show that sales are weighted very heavily as compared to reputation and review score (which is why Tiburon showed up as well - apparently disregarding Superman reviews/sales).

Simon Carless
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Mike, number of games released is also factored in - so EA Canada scores well on number of games and sales, I believe - and actually not as badly on average review score as you might presume, since volume of game releases helps to average out review score bobbles, of course.

Zack Hiwiller
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Mike, Superman wasn't a 2007 game.

Chris Oltyan
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Also, I think there needs to be a clear distinction between "Top Studios" and "Top Studios to Work For". Maybe this list should be called something more along the lines of "Most Profitable and Recognized Studios". Given, that doesn't have the ring of Top 50 Developer Studios, but some subtitle might be nice.

Simon Carless
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Chris - we may consider, at some point, doing 'Best Studios To Work For', I think that's worth looking at. This is similar to Fortune 500 vs. Fortune's Best Companies To Work For, of course.

Billy Joe Cain
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Grassroots/Michael John:

You are both right, but in the "industry," whether it's right or wrong, we use the term "developer" to mean an individual developer as well as a development studio. It just makes it even more obvious that we do not have a common gaming vernacular that everyone can understand. We will get there eventually, but we're going to have to do it wrong for a while until we can all agree on common terms.

I want to see the "best developer to work for" as well!